Home / Politics News / House lawmakers introduce bill to expose secret settlements, end ‘hush fund’

House lawmakers introduce bill to expose secret settlements, end ‘hush fund’

In a push to end the secrecy surrounding sexual harassment throughout the U.S. Capitol, House lawmakers on Wednesday presented regulation to bar the usage of taxpayer bucks to settle misconduct claims towards participants of Congress — and to identify names.

“Enough is enough,” Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of the crucial bill’s sponsors, stated. “For far too long sexual predators have roamed freely through the halls of Congress — the people’s house  — while survivors of sexual harassment and assault have essentially been isolated, bullied and shamed into silence.” 

Numerous allegations of sexual misconduct by means of tough avid gamers in politics, industry and the media have put power on Congress in fresh weeks to fortify its out of date approach of addressing proceedings.

Somewhat-known legislation that has been at the books for greater than a decade offers someone accusing a federal lawmaker of sexual harassment the correct to sue – however provided that they consent to a drawn-out procedure that incorporates counseling and mediation.

The lawmaker’s identification, even though she or he is located to blame, stays confidential. And if there’s a agreement – and there were greater than 200 – it’s the American taxpayer that’s at the hook.

Recent revelations have detailed secret payouts of greater than $17 million for harassment claims from what’s necessarily a congressional hush fund. The revelations have stirred mounting hypothesis over who was once all in favour of the ones instances. 

Addressing the ones issues, the Congressional Accountability and Hush Fund Elimination Act — which was once presented Wednesday with bipartisan fortify — would end the secrecy. 

The bill will require the disclosure, inside 30 days, of all agreement bills together with the lawmakers concerned and the character of the allegations. 

“I know American taxpayers all over the country were revolted when they heard about this [fund],” Florida Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, every other sponsor of the bill, stated.

The bill would additionally limit the longer term use of taxpayer cash to pay sexual harassment and attack claims towards any member of Congress or their group of workers and would limit lawmakers from the use of their place of work budgets to masks bills.

“There is no way that the taxpayer should be deprived of knowing where their tax dollars are going,” DeSantis stated.

The groundbreaking bill would additionally require any member of Congress who has ever been named in a sexual harassment or sexual attack agreement that’s been paid for by means of taxpayers to reimburse the U.S. Treasury with pastime.

This yr by myself, the Treasury has paid just about $1 million to settle sexual harassment and different proceedings towards participants of Congress and their group of workers – in secret.

“The need for secrecy is the smokescreen under which public officials often conceal government behavior that is embarrassing, incompetent, corrupt, reckless, dangerous, illegal, or even criminal,” Andrew McCarthy, senior fellow on the National Review Institute, stated. “Particularly when a matter is outside the realm of national security … and when it involves the behavior of public officials, there should be a strong presumption against confidentiality.”

Separately, the House voted on a bill that will make sexual harassment coaching obligatory. The Senate handed a an identical bill closing week.

“The fact that some people [who] end up talking in these halls are subjected to a threatening or hostile work environment when they came here to serve their country, to serve their ideals, that’s wrong, that’s a disgrace,” House Speaker Paul Ryan stated. “We cannot and we will not tolerate that kind of behavior.”

The House Administration Committee will dangle every other listening to subsequent week in regards to the sexual harassment claims procedure in Congress.

The Congressional Black Caucus additionally stated Wednesday it will now not name for Rep. John Conyers’ resignation.

Last week, Conyers’ homeland newspaper referred to as for his resignation within the wake of the sexual harassment allegations towards the Michigan lawmaker. The House Ethics Committee additionally introduced it has opened an investigation into the topic.

CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, stated the verdict for Conyers to step down can be “for his family and his constituents to make.”

On Sunday, Conyers stated he was once stepping down because the senior Democrat at the tough House Judiciary Committee. 

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